Old ‘rookie’ is still a great racer
MARK Skaife probably shouldn’t have retired when he did. I don’t know the full details of why he quit two years ago, but I’m just glad we have got him out of retirement again to partner me in the next two endurance rounds.
He can read and understand a car so well and I think he’ll show he still has great speed in him.
Skaifey was the first driver in our new Series II Commodore on Monday at Queensland Raceway official testing and right away the oldest rookie on ‘‘rookie day’’ was on the money with some very quick lap times.
Our times were within a tenth of a second and he said he felt comfortable and confident in the car.
We don’t have a team strategy yet for who will start, who will finish and who will qualify at Phillip Island and Bathurst, but there could be some surprises.
We both have to qualify at Phillip Island, but I’m more than happy to hand over the duties to Skaifey at Bathurst for the benefit of the team if he’s the fastest. And I don’t care either way whether I start or finish.
It’s been 10 years since we drove together and it was great to be sharing a car again, though there were a few minor issues.
We practised our pit stop driver changes and had a few problems at first because I get out head first and he gets out bum first.
It takes a little longer to get him out of the car because he’s got to get his walking cane first.
Jokes aside, we’ve got about 30 seconds for a pit stop with fuel and we can do the driver change in 20 seconds, so it’s not going to be a real problem. We’re also about the same height and weight, so there’s been little compromise on seating position, though we did move the steering wheel 15mm closer to accommodate Skaifey’s unusual driving style.
I’d really like to thank all the fans who have sent messages of support for my wife, Nat, over the past few weeks.
She’s been struck down with a hematoma on her spleen and that’s why she couldn’t come with me on our sponsor trip to Europe and the F1 at Spa last week. She needs plenty of rest and thankfully the rupture has now reduced in size.
It was a real shame she couldn’t come with me because we could have revisited some of our old haunts from 1997 when we were living over there and I was racing Formula 3000.
The trip was great, though it rained for all but two days.
Because I had to get back home for testing, I had to leave the track before Aussie Mark Webber qualified on pole. Also, I missed the race because I was in the air.
After a test debriefing yesterday I flew to Hamilton Island for a sponsor function, and I’m off to Mildura this weekend for another test in the Holden Colorado that I’m driving in the Australasian Safari with Kees Weel.
I shoot up to Sydney mid-week for more PR, then down to Phillip Island for the first of the enduros.
On the Monday after the race we have a motorbike track day at Broadford with Wayne Maxwell and Josh Waters from the Suzuki Australian Superbike team. Two days later I’m on a plane to Perth for the nine-day Safari and before I know it I’ll be saddling up for Bathurst.
At least it’ll give Nat a chance to rest and recover while I’m away. Hopefully she will be well enough to come on our annual family caravan pilgrimage.
On the money: Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife during testing.